A poet laureate of Texas, according to a resolution adopted by the Forty-third Texas Legislature in 1933, is appointed biennially by a committee composed of the governor, three senators, and three representatives. Until 1961 a new poet laureate of Texas was appointed every two years; subsequently, the term was reduced to one year, with alternate poets laureate selected in 1953, 1959, and for many of the years since 1963 in which appointments have been made. The honorary appointment carries with it no obligations or requirements. The selecting committee, for the most part, chooses those whose poetry can be understood by the average reader. The first ten poets laureate were Judd Mortimer Lewis of Houston (1932–34), Aline T. Michaelis of Austin (1934–36), Grace Noll Crowell of Dallas (1936–39), Lexie Dean Robertson of Rising Star (1939–41), Nancy Richey Ranson of Dallas (1941–43), Dollilee Davis Smith of Cleburne (1943–45), David Riley Russell of Dallas (1945–47), Aline B. Carter of San Antonio (1947–49), Carlos Ashley of Llano (1949–51), and Arthur M. Sampley of Denton (1951–53). Others from 1953 through 1988 have included Mildred Lindsey Railborn of San Angelo (1953–55), Margaret Royalty Edwards of Waco (1957–59), Jenny Lind Porter of Austin (1964–65), Dr. Terry Fontenot of Port Arthur (1971–72), William D. Barney of Fort Worth (1982–83), Ruth E. Reuther of Wichita Falls (1987–88), and Vassar Miller of Houston (1988–89). In the 1990s no appointments were made with the exception of Mildred Baass of Victoria (1993–94). In 2000 James Hoggard of Wichita Falls became poet laureate, followed by Walt McDonald of Lubbock (2001), Jack Myers of Mesquite (2003), Cleatus Rattan of Cisco (2004), Alan Birkelbach of Plano (2005), Red Steagall of Fort Worth (2006), Steven Fromholz of Kopperl (2007), Larry D. Thomas of Houston (2008), and Paul Ruffin of Huntsville (2009). Karla K. Morton of Denton was named poet laureate for 2010.
Support Texas History Now
Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.
Margaret Royalty Edwards, Poets Laureate of Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956; rev. ed., 1966).
- Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
- Awards and Honors
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Anonymous, “Poet Laureate,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 27, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/poet-laureate.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.